Author(s): Nadia Avramova, Krassimira Yaneva
Introduction: Patients’ informed consent is a legal regulation and a moral principle, determined by legislation in Bulgaria and the European Union. It represents patients’ rights to take part in the clinical decisions concerning their treat- ment. The authors report research showing informed consent’s more important aspects related to daily relationships between dentists and patients. Aims: The main aims of this study were to investigate the use of patients’ informed con- sent and the extent to which it is provided in Bulgarian dentists’ practice. Methods: A questionnaire, which included questions on various aspects of the use of informed consent, was used to collect data from a convenience sample of 102 dentists working in the Medical University of Sofia, Faculty of Dental Medicine and the Military Medical Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria. Completed questionnaires were returned anonymously. Results: Eighty dentists completed the question- naire. Seventy-eight (97.5%) replied that they thought informed consent was necessary. Seventy (87.5%) dentists report- ed that they took informed consent for all types of treatment. Of the remainder, 10 reported taking informed consent prior to surgical interventions, eight before orthodontic treatment and seven before prosthetic treatment. However, only 64 (80%) respondents reported that they always obtained informed consent from their patients. Thirty-seven (46.25%) den- tists responded that they obtained the oral form of informed consent, 30 (37.5%) that they obtained written informed consent, and 13 (16.25%) that they obtained both forms. Surgical treatment was the most frequent case in which the writ- ten form was obtained. Almost all participants (70; 87.5%) reported that they should always take informed consent when they treated children. Forty-one (51.25%) reported that they obtained informed consent from all patients but 21 (26.25%) did not obtain it when treating colleagues, 29 (36.25%) from relatives, 15 (18.75%) from friends, and 10 (12.5%) from long-time patients. Conclusions: From the current survey, it can be concluded that the dentists as staff members of lead- ing training and healthcare facilities may well have demonstrated greater awareness about questions concerning patients’ informed consent than most other Bulgarian dentists. Informed consent plays a major role in the daily practice of the majority but many are not using written consent as a routine procedure. However, even though almost 100% of the den- tists thought that it is necessary to get informed consent, only 80% of them obtained it in practice.